F1's Ecclestone says will fight BayernLB damages claim

Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:11am EST
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By Keith Weir

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone said he would fight a $400 million damages claim that German bank BayernLB is planning to file in London over the sale of the motor racing business in 2005.

The fresh threat of legal action is the latest fallout from the deal eight years ago, in which private equity fund CVC acquired control of Formula One from a group of banks including BayernLB.

German company Constantin Medien is already seeking more than $100 million from the 83-year-old Ecclestone in a separate case which is close to concluding in the High Court in London.

Ecclestone is accused of undervaluing Formula One to favor a sale to CVC that kept him in charge of a business he had built up over three decades.

"If we get sued, we'll probably have to go to court, which is what we did with this last (Constantin) case," Ecclestone told Reuters on Thursday.

BayernLB had said on Wednesday it planned to bring a $400 million damages claim against Ecclestone in London next month.

Ecclestone said his lawyers had told him the vast majority of such damages claims were settled out of court, but he had no intention of doing so. "They picked the wrong person with me," said the British billionaire.

Legal problems stemming from the CVC sale threaten to end Ecclestone's long hold on a sport that attracts hundreds of millions of television viewers to its series of grand prix races held around the globe.   Continued...

Formula One Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone arrives at the High Court in central London November 6, 2013. REUTERS/Olivia Harris